US Player Ratings: Sour report card after Spain loss
There may be a small pack of US players planning to hide the report card from mom and dad after an unpleasant pre-Gold Cup test failed against World Cup champs Spain on Saturday night.
Despite sending out the "B+" side, the only somewhat furious Roja cruised to a 3-0 halftime lead against a home side that oddly looked to have no real game plan.
Things got much better after some sorely needed halftime alterations, but the story on an embarrassing night was another plot involving poor lineup casting by boss Bob Bradley.
As a periodic reminder, marks are based on a scale with "6" as average.
US PLAYER RATINGS
Tim Howard (6) - The Everton star got away with both bad positioning on and reaction to an early chip off the crossbar. From there, it's hard to fault him much, what with Spain allowed several unmarked shooting chances in the box.
Jonathan Spector (5) - He had a shaky opening phase playing the first half at right back, but settled down and ended up being the only US back liner actively jumping Spain passing lanes. A couple of Spector's raids forward ended with him making a bad pass to set Spain running. After the break, he was simply miscast as a wide midfielder.
Oguchi Onyewu (5.5) - Gooch refrained from making major flubs like the ones happening all around him in the first half. He was stretched out of place by Spain's dropping forward early on, but adapted to hold a better position despite getting practically no help from the defensive midfield. We are still seeing too many unnecessary long balls, though.
Tim Ream (4) - It was not an especially good night for the Red Bulls defender, who failed to find spots to display his smooth ball work. Off the ball, he was beaten over the top and off his weak side shoulder during goal leaks. Ream was also often too timid with his positional play on ball carriers, but eventually gathered himself a bit.
Eric Lichaj (3) - It was the wrong night to run him in a left back experiment, but that isn't going to bail him out here (such as the bad early offside flag did). Between repeatedly failing to hold the integrity of the offside line and dribbling from space to traffic, this Lichaj fan was constantly left to grimace. He has several lessons to learn in video study, but there will be far better days ahead for him.
Maurice Edu (3) - To be honest, Mo looked pretty tired. It's no wonder after the busiest season of his pro career to date and 20 Rangers starts from mid-February to mid-May. That being said, Edu was twice caught watching a scorer fire off through his vacated area. Uncharacteristically, the midfielder offered very little resistance over his 45 minutes.
Jermaine Jones (3) - The hot transfer topic did himself no market favors on this night, with his off-the-ball defense reaching spectacularly bad on various occasions. He was in far too much of a hurry when given the ball and, like his partner, little help in taking it.
Sacha Kljestan (4.5) - In another textbook case of bad casting, the Anderlecht man didn't meet particular situations mentally as a wide man in the first half. When moved centrally, his play picked up and it became easier to see why Kljestan had a nice "rookie" season in Belgium.
Robbie Rogers (4) - It wasn't so much bad as overly quiet. The Crew winger isn't really suited for this matchup in this role and Lichaj's troubles helped keep Rogers off his horse. Sadly, his most notable attack moment came when he absolutely squandered a gifted chance with teammates free near halftime.
Juan Agudelo (5.5) - On the plus side, the teen phenom was the US player most dedicated to possessing the ball. Of course, with four midfielders out there, that should never be the case. Other than that, it really was mere scraps for Agudelo up front
Jozy Altidore (5) - What's a guy to do when there's no one to dance with? Oft-isolated, Altidore did what he could to win a few fouls and track back. He just wasn't given a great deal to do, but still needs to stop fanning out wide so often.
Coach Bob Bradley (2) - I was tempted to hand out my second-ever zero to the boss, but as usual, halftime adjustments paid off. Problem is, first halves are kinda important.
There was no calming influence started in the ill-formed midfield, nobody to set the metronome. Against a team like Spain, that's all but a forfeit. At least, though, that would have qualified as a visible game plan.
I'm still not sure what the idea was tonight. The spacing was thoroughly dizzy and until the veteran subs came on everyone seemed allergic to making the simple play.
Frankly, I do not feel Bradley gave this game the proper objective - try things out against someone besides the world champs three days before a big tournament. If one is truly serious about finding important things out, find them out in spots amid the "A" team - not eight at a time being hypnotized by Spain.
Steve Cherundolo (6) - Though beaten on the last goal, the Hannover 96 skipper provided plenty of field tilt and combo play up his wing.
Clarence Goodson (6) - Though not considered ideal to face Tiki-taka because of his lanky frame, Goodson showed enough coolness to make one wonder why he didn't start.
Michael Bradley (6.5) - Any time anyone proclaims that Bradley doesn't deserve a starting place, just show them this first half. We simply do not have another traffic director of his typical standard.
Clint Dempsey (6.5) - Like Bradley, Deuce came on to show the US the way forward. His inside-out toe poke ball to set Bedoya running was pure class.
Chris Wondolowski (5.5) - While his off-the-ball runs and sense of attack shape are brilliant, Wondo has yet to convince he has the technical class to cut it against the big boys. I'd still like to see more of him, please.
Alejandro Bedoya (5) - Speaking of guys we should see more of (and preferably in the middle of the park), the work horse pitched in a decent 25 minutes. He gets docked for badly mishandling Dempsey's lead pass when a goal seemed more likely.